Sometimes you hear a story which underlines how amazing the exploration community is. This latest epic chapter to add to the pantheon is one to warm the heart: one Commander flying half way across the galaxy to help another in distress.
This tale shows the bond that can exist between pilots, even if they’re strangers. The universe presents us with disasters – but there are always those who speed to help.
Gazette: Firstly Cmdrs – what were your respective positions, and missions?
Chiggy Vonrichtofen: I was searching the ZUNOU sector for Earth-like worlds, around 2,000ly from Sagittarius A* and 9,000ly from Colonia.
Felix Macedonica: And I was finally leaving Beagle Point, starting back by navigating the Roncevaux Crossing. But I made a mistake.
I miscalculated distances. I arrived in a system and saw to my horror that the next one was 30.3ly away. Too far for my Type 6. Close – but too far.
So I backtracked to the previous system – and found it had only one landable planet. But that was all I needed, right? All I had to do was prospect some materials and boost the jump range. Right?
Dead wrong. In doing that previous 50% boost, I didn’t notice that it had used up all my remaining Germanium. All of it. And this solitary planet – the only one in the two systems I was now trapped in – had no Germanium at all.
I was marooned. Permanently.
Gazette: Every explorer’s nightmare. What was your reaction?
Felix: Once you reach a place where there is nothing you can do, despair drains away and a certain stillness fills you. At least, that was what happened to me. This was the end after almost a year out in the galaxy.
But first, I wanted to cast my voice across the galaxy. Not for help, but to alert others. If I couldn’t free myself, I could at least warn other Commanders of my fate.
Gazette: But something miraculous happened.
Felix: Within minutes, other Commanders were echoing back support and encouragement – but we all knew it was futile. It wasn’t fuel I needed, it was Germanium. I had no way to mine for it and no Commander had the ability to transport it. It was wonderful to hear so many supportive messages, but I knew that they would all die down in time. I was resigned.
But then Commander Chiggy Vonrictofen opened a channel to me. And he asked a simple question: where you’re stranded, are there any ring systems?
And there were – three. After that, everything became a blur of frenzied activity. 30 minutes and one polite enquiry later – and everything had changed.
Gazette: Chiggy – what made you decide to undertake such a rescue?
Chiggy: Up until now, my goal was just see if I could discover more Earth-like worlds than anyone else. But doing the same thing over and over again – there space madness lies. This was just the spark I needed.
I knew there was a real person needing real help. As soon as he confirmed there were non-icy rings in the system, I took off for Colonia, equipped a mining laser and headed for the Far Rim. Sure beats hauling bio-waste. This was the kind of Community Goal I could get into.
Gazette: Obviously it was going to take some time to travel such a distance. How did you pass the time Felix, and Chiggy, how was your journey?
Felix: I lost track of time a little – I deep scanned the system to verify the typology of the various ring systems. I stayed on the comms to track what was happening across the galaxy. I deployed my SRVs and stocked up on what materials I could find. Anything to keep busy, you see.
I knew if I stopped to consider what this Commander as doing, I would give up and hit that self-destruct switch and unburden him from that effort. That was my fear, and to keep it at bay, I worked hard at staying occupied.
Chiggy: My run was smooth. After a good night’s sleep at Jaques Station I made 30,000ly in my first run – that was 14 hours – and the remaining 17,000ly the next day. Ran through several binaries which startled me a bit, but other than that, all went well and I took no damage at all (save my paint!). And I talked to Felix all the way.
Gazette: An incredible effort. Felix, can you briefly describe your feelings when Cmdr Vonrichthofen jumped into your system?
Felix: Relief, of course. Elation. Surprise, also. Here was an Asp Explorer which had only 48 hours previously been almost half a galaxy away.
Disbelief – that I was actually seeing a ship which, to be honest, existed more in my hope and imagination than it did in reality.
Gazette: Did either of you know one another before this?
Chiggy: I didn’t know Felix before. I’m glad I do now.
Felix: I had never met this Commander before nor spoken to him. I had heard of him. Who hasn’t? But I didn’t know the face behind the reputation. Now I do.
More than that, I know that his word is his bond. And that is priceless.
Gazette: Finally, Commanders, what are your plans for the future?
Felix: One day, I hope to join him searching for Earth-like worlds and we will drift a little together, two battered ships side by side, and remember the day the galaxy became a little smaller thanks to his efforts.
The universe can be cruel. But it can surprise you also. The universe punished me just when I thought I owned it – and then it opened up a gloved hand and sped Chiggy all the way to me.
Chiggy: The encore for me will be the problem!
All photographs courtest of Cmdr Chiggy Vonrichtofen